Written by: Alfonso Cuarón & Timothy J. Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby (screenplay), P.D. James (novel)
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Caine, Charlie Hunnam, Danny Huston
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
In 2027, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman in a chaotic world where women are infertile
What a great movie. It's got a dystopian story with a unique twist. Everything else builds on the story, with amazing sequences of war, tense chases, and great story arcs. It's a movie I wanted to watch again as soon as it ended due to the depth. It explores war, immigration, and religious symbolism without intruding upon the main story.
I saw this five years ago and I thought it was pretty good. I watched it again and I don't understand how it didn't completely blow me away.
It does a great job of quickly establishing this world with newspaper clippings on the wall and news reports. We don't need exposition. It's a melancholy world as refugees flock to England, the last stable government in the world. England is a police state. While an activist group lobbies for immigrants to get equal rights, the government plants bombs to undermine the group.
What makes the concept novel is that dystopia is the result of mass infertility. It's been nearly two decades since the last child was born anywhere in the world. Former activist turned bureaucrat Theo (Clive Owen) gets caught up in a conspiracy when his ex-wife asks him to transport a girl. Of course his plight gets much deeper very quickly.
He's a reluctant hero, at first doing this because of his ex-wife and the large payout, later because he believes in the cause. He's not without flaws, but the movie uses those as an advantage. His alcoholism provides him a means of sanitizing his hands later in the movie. For most of the movie he wears flip flops. It's not by choice, he's on the run and lost his shoes. It's a small detail that gives his character color. He's the kind of person that seems like he'd give up, and while he's pushed to the limit, we see just what kind of person he is.
While the immigration is a side story, the movie does a stunning job of exploring the issue. We're taken inside an immigration camp and see the poor treatment inflicted by British security officers. The depth to this movie is impressive. The movie explores themes of despair and hope with Christian symbolism. At one point the pregnant Kee is in a building that amounts to a stable, joking that she's a virgin.
It's well directed. Theo's escape from the farm house is especially tense. Cuarón used a number of long shots during this chase and later during the war scenes in the last quarter of the movie. It feels very real, but it also set ups an amazing moment when battle stops on both sides. They forget about their enemies and pause.
While I thought this was worth watching before, I now consider it simply amazing. This is Cuarón's best film. It does so many things right and the foundation is a detailed story with everything building on that foundation. Theo starts the movie as a cynical, apathetic drunk, but he finds a purpose. This world feels real because it's multi-faceted. The world doesn't stop for Theo's task. These side stories provide depth and realism, expanding beyond the boundaries of this movie.